Please complete the form to email this item.

Minbar

Minbar

  • Place of origin:

    Cairo, Egypt (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1468-1496 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved wood, inlaid with ivory

  • Museum number:

    1050:1 to 2-1869

  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, room 42, case 13, shelf EXP

  • Download image

A minbar, or pulpit, stands to the right of the mihrab niche in major mosques. It is used for the sermons delivered during the midday prayer on Friday, the main service of the week.

Several woodworking techniques were used to decorate the structure, as here. Most striking are the panels assembled from hundreds of small, carefully shaped pieces of wood. Many, including this one, are set with carved ivory elements, which highlight the complex geometric designs.

The decoration often included carved inscriptions. Here they include the name of Sultan Qa'itbay, who ruled Egypt and Syria from 1468 to 1496. During this time, he earned a reputation for piety. He founded and restored many religious buildings and supplied them with minbars (mosque pulpits).

Physical description

Islamic pulpit, of carved wood, inlaid with ivory.

Place of Origin

Cairo, Egypt (probably, made)

Date

1468-1496 (made)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Carved wood, inlaid with ivory

Marks and inscriptions

Above doors:
Lo! Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! Ask blessings on him and salute him with worthy salutation
(Surah XXXIII)

Back of doors:
Lo! Allah enjoineth justice and kindness, and giving to kinsfolk
(Surah XVI)

Dimensions

Height: 708 cm, Width: 93 cm, Depth: 303 cm, Weight: 700 kg

Historical context note

Sultan Qa'itbay sponsored a great revival of the arts in Egypt and Syria during his long reign, especially the production of objects used to adorn mosques. This minbar (pulpit), a masterpiece of Islamic woodwork, was part of that program and bears inscriptions with Qa'itbay's name and titles. The decorative scheme is a time-honoured one consisting of central stars which "radiate" intersecting polygons. The design has been carefully assembled like a mosaic from precisely cut strips of wood, then ornamented with materials of subtly contrasting colors, such as ivory and ebony, to create a beautifully integrated ensemble.

Descriptive line

Minbar (Islamic pulpit) made for Sultan Qa'itbay, Egypt (probably Cairo), 1468-1496.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Tim Stanley ed., with Mariam Rosser-Owen and Stephen Vernoit, Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, V&A Publications, 2004; pp. 24, 28, 37, 100, plate 113-114

Exhibition History

Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum (The Millennium Galleries, Sheffield 14/01/2006-16/04/2006)
Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum (Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo 01/10/2005-04/12/2005)
Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum (Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas 03/04/2005-04/09/2005)
Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum (National Gallery of Art, Washington 18/07/2004-06/02/2005)

Labels and date

MIMBAR (pulpit)
Wood inlaid with ivory. Erected by the Sultan Qaitbay in his mosque in Cairo.
EGYPTIAN (MAMLUK); end of the 15th century. [Used until 11/2003]
Minbar for Sultan Qa'itbay
Egypt, probably Cairo
1468-96

A minbar, or pulpit, is placed to the right of the mihrab niche in major mosques. It is used for the sermons delivered during the midday prayer on Friday, the main service of the week.

Several woodworking techniques were used to decorate the structure. Most striking are the panels assembled from hundreds of small, carefully shaped pieces of wood. Many are set with carved ivory elements, which highlight the complex geometric designs.

The name of Sultan Qa'itbay, who ruled Egypt and Syria from 1468-96, appears in several of the inscriptions.

Cedar with joined, carved, turned and fretted decoration, inlay of carved plaques of ivory, wood and ivory mosaic work, and traces of paint and gilding

Museum no. 1050-1869 [Jameel Gallery]

Production Note

Dating is based on the attribution to Qaitbay's reign .

Materials

Wood; Ivory

Techniques

Carving; Inlaid

Subjects depicted

Stars; Polygons

Categories

Islam; Africa

Collection code

MES

Download image
Qr_O48775
Ajax-loader